Monday, May 30, 2011

Lies and Damned Lies, Republican Using National Debt To Destroy Medicare and Social Security

Lies and Damned Lies, Republican Using National Debt To Destroy Medicare and Social Security

Amid all the nonsense and gobbledegook that has been written about banking industry and about the economic slump during the last four years of the global financial crisis, New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson has stood out both for the clarity of her analysis, and for her willingness to go after the guilty parties in the political and especially the banking system, naming names and calling it as she sees it.

So it was kind of disappointing--even shocking--to read her latest article reporting on a new “study” by Peterson Institute for International Economics Senior Fellow Joseph Gagnon, warning about the nation’s growing debt crisis.

The Peterson Institute, founded by Wall Street tycoon Peter Peterson, has long been gunning for the Social Security and Medicare systems, which he, and the rest of the Wall Street gang, see as unfairly competing with Wall Street for the assets of the public, and as destructive of the “free market.”

Peterson’s basic schtick is that the two critical support systems for the elderly and infirm are going to bankrupt the country as they pay out benefits that exceed what retirees paid into the system, and that the solution is to cut back on those benefits, increase the taxes collected, or better, to privatize both systems.

Given Peterson’s and his institute’s long-standing agenda to gut Social Security and Medicare, it’s not surprising that Gagnon, as a fellow there, would say the solution to the nation’s growing debt is to either raise taxes or cut those two hugely successful, critically important and broadly popular social programs.

Morgenson is too smart not to know better, and yet not once in her article did she look outside of Gagnon’s narrow definition of the problem at the real cause of the national debt: the country’s outlandish military budget and a decade of unfunded wars, which have been piling up debt at a rate of some $150 billion a year (and that’s just the principal!).

After all, the country has been piling up this debt for several decades, and especially over the last decade, but during all this time, Social Security and Medicare have been paying out their benefits from current dedicated payroll taxes and by drawing on the trust funds that had built up because of the years that more was being collected than paid out in benefits.

Get the point? Nobody, including Gagnon, Morgenson or the Social Security and Medicare-hating members of Congress like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), will acknowledge the fact that not one dime of the huge US deficit has been caused by a benefit check paid by Social Security or Medicare.

It’s the wars, stupid!

If the US would just cut its military spending down to size, instead of spending as much as the rest of the world combined on war or preparing for war--say by 75%--it would free up more than $450 billion a year that could go towards funding things like improved education, research into alternative energy, improving health care access, and paying down the deficit, too. Toss in cuts in the outsized $40+ billion annual secret intelligence budget, in the nation’s obsolete and dangerous nuclear weapons program and other ancillary military-related expenditures, and we’re talking about saving half a trillion dollars a year!

Morgenson should be ashamed at carrying water for the likes of Peterson and Gagnon.

This being Memorial Day weekend, she could at least make an attempt to restore her once sterling but now sullied reputation as an uncompromising financial journalist by taking on the Pentagon.

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains (BantamBooks, 1992), and his latest book "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). All his work is available at
It is a lie that we have a national debt problem. One damned lie is that we have a defict problem rather than a revenue problem. We have a revenue problem. Thouh yes we do like to spend money like billions to private military contractors like Blackwater/Xe and other nefarious "businesses" that harm our national security more than help it. The other damned lie is that we must treat seniors, the disabled and children like so much trash to pay for all the other goodies right-wing conservatives feel we must have.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How Can We Save Medicare

How Medicare Be Saved

Medicare is arguably one of the nation’s most successful and cherished public insurance programs. The program covers approximately 47 million elderly and disabled Americans, and helps pay for hospital, physician visits, and prescription drugs. It is truly hard to argue with success.

The traditional Medicare program, coupled with a supplemental private insurance policy, covers most of our seniors’ medical bills, with far less co-pays and out-of- pocket costs than private insurance.

Therefore, proposals to privatize Medicare — like Rep. Paul Ryan’s — have been met with such fierce opposition, because it was revealed in the national media that privatization meant much higher out-of-pocket costs for seniors. National polls have shown strong general support for maintaining Medicare or even increasing funding for it.

However, Medicare costs are projected to increase from $519 billion per year in 2010 to $929 billion in 2020.

The simplistic argument we often hear from conservatives is that Medicare is a costly federal government program because all federal government programs are inefficient and therefore costly. According to their line of reasoning, privatization is the only way to save money.

The truth is that there are several other ways to strengthen Medicare, but there has been a false debate in the nation regarding the rising costs of Medicare.

This may be partly due to not understanding a fundamentally key concept regarding current healthcare policy — there are no effective cost-containment mechanisms in place to control the private market costs of prescription drug costs, corporate hospitals and medical technology which are the main drivers of Medicare costs.

Research by respected nationally renowned economist Dean Baker shows that the federal government and Medicare beneficiaries would save $600 billion dollars between 2006 and 2013 if Medicare were allowed to directly negotiate prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

One study by Families USA found that the Veterans Administration was able to negotiate substantially lower prices for the top 20 drugs used by seniors, compared to private Medicare part D plans.

It would only make sense for there to be bipartisan support for Medicare to be able to use the full faith and credit of the federal government and be able to negotiate down the rising costs of prescription drugs.

According to Forbes magazine, hospital charges represent about one third of total healthcare spending — $718 billion altogether. Twenty four hospitals in this country with over 200 beds make an operating margin of 25 percent or more — a profit margin that compares favorably to drug giants like Pfizer, and easily beats the operating profit margin that General Electric reported in 2009.

We can no longer continue to have America’s hospitals make these kinds of large profit margins, when the health of our senior citizens and the fiscal health of our nation are at stake. It will take much needed political courage to address the root causes of rising Medicare costs — a Wall Street-dominated healthcare system.

America must transition to a non-profit improved Medicare-For-All program, if we are to have any chance of realistically containing over-all healthcare costs. That’ s why I have reintroduced H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act, that would provide for a single-payer healthcare system, providing all Americans with healthcare coverage.

Countries in Europe, Japan, and Taiwan have been able to effectively contain their healthcare costs for decades through their very successful universal healthcare systems — without waiting lines, rationed care, and out of control taxes.

America can learn invaluable lessons from other nations on how to control healthcare costs, and the time has come to be open minded about their success and honest about our need to change course from our corporate-dominated and inefficient healthcare system.

Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
While most Main St Republicans generally like Medicare, the Republican party establishment has always hated it. If nothing else because it was created by Democrats. The right-wing Republican mind-set dictates that in all circumstances, no matter how old or disabled you have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. They are guided by a cruel and UnAmerica philosophy. Everyone needs help eventually. While Republicans have played games, little soundbites that gave us all a glimpse of their dirty little secret they have finally come out of the closet. Republican leadership has demanded Medicare be gutted or they will drive the economy into the ditch, once again. McConnell: I Won’t Agree To Raise The Debt Limit Without Medicare Cuts. So gut Medicare or conservatives will cause an even deeper recession.

Just Because Rep. Paul Ryan Keeps Saying It…

…Doesn’t make it any less egregiously wrong.

When I introduced this blog a week ago, I said that one reason for it was to help people sort out some of the extremely misleading assertions partisans are making these days.

Rep Paul Ryan seems intent on keeping me very busy. On Meet the Press today, he repeated this little chestnut he’s been tossing around lately regarding the R’s treatment of Medicare in the budget plan he authored:

“Our plan is to give seniors the power to deny business to inefficient providers…their plan [Affordable Care Act] is to give government the power to deny care to seniors.”

Just a few little words…but there’s so much wrong with this—the logic is so upside down—it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll go after the first part here and leave the second part—‘their plan’—for later.

To get why this “market solution” can’t work, you have to understand a bit about how Ryan’s plan changes Medicare. As is by now pretty widely appreciated, including by many in his own party, the plan ends guaranteed health care coverage for seniors and replaces it with a voucher for them to shop for insurance on the street.

Importantly, the value of those vouchers start well below where they need to be to enable seniors to afford coverage comparable to Medicare today (in fact, beneficiaries costs would have to double), and their value falls increasing behind coverage costs over time.

Suppose you send me to the grocery store to buy you a gallon of milk. Milk costs $3.50 a gallon but you give me $2. I spend the whole day “denying business to inefficient providers”—i.e., grocers who all charge more than that—and at the end of the day, bring you back a pint.

Now, instead of milk, where I’ve got the information I need to be a smart shopper, suppose you give me the same under-priced voucher but ask me to bring you back a plan for treating that strange pain you’ve been experiencing on your left side on humid days.

There’s no “denying business to inefficient providers” in the Ryan plan because there’s no market discipline that average folks with incomplete information armed with an inadequate voucher can enforce on a private health insurance market that’s…well, different.

I’ll deal with the other part of Rep. Ryan’s misleadingly mendacious medical mantra manana. Check this out in the meantime if you’re so inclined.
And more here, Right-Wing Media Attack Medicare "Cuts" As They Praise Ryan Plan, Which Includes Same "Cuts"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lying Sleaze Bag of the Week - Rep. Ann Marie-Buerkle (R-NY)

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) Attacks Democrats For Supporting Medicare Cuts She Just Voted For

Right next door to NY-26, a GOP freshman is on the defensive over her vote for the House GOP budget and its plan to slash and privatize Medicare.

Rep. Ann Marie-Buerkle (NY-25) is sending flyers to her constituents arguing that phasing out traditional Medicare and replacing it with a program of subsidized private insurance is not privatization. "The plan before Congress will not privatize Medicare or turn it into a "voucher" system," she claims. And she takes a swipe at Democrats for voting for deep Medicare cuts as part of the health care reform law, even though she just voted to maintain those same cuts.

"One of the hidden secrets in the health care law enacted last year is that it cuts $500 billion in Medicare benefits and spends it on new entitlements for people who are not Medicare beneficiaries," she writes in the flyer. "I voted to stop those cuts."

It's true that the 2010 health care law did include hundreds of billions of dollars worth of cuts to Medicare spending -- principally from overpayments to private insurers that participate in Medicare Advantage. And Republican candidates and the NRCC did a great job of demagoguing that vote as part of their very successful 2010 midterm campaign. It's also true that Republicans have voted to rescind those cuts as part of their efforts to repeal the whole health care law.

But -- and this is key -- every member who voted for the House GOP Budget, including Buerkle, also voted to sustain those cuts. The plan, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) repeals most of the health care law, but does not repeal those Medicare cuts. So Buerkle is having it both ways here.

It is so simple even the average knucklehead conservative can understand that Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) voted for the Ryan plan, which is a vote to gut Medicare.

Why Are Republicans So Keen to Persecute Elizabeth Warren?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Republican War on Medicare Highlights The Deepening Moral Failings of Conservatism

The Republican War on Medicare Highlights The Deepening Moral Failings of Conservatism

When a mainstream news outlet like Politico publishes a major news story quoting multiple (unnamed) Republicans asserting that the House GOP ignored internal criticism of Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare, we can be sure of at least one thing: The Ryan budget proposal has moved beyond dead-on-arrival status to pure political poison.

Of course, we didn't need the wave of anonymous sources now bravely surfacing to tell us this. It was immediately apparent in the town hall denunciations aimed at Republican congressmen in the aftermath of their vote to pass the Ryan budget, the shocking surge of the Democratic congressional candidate in a heavily conservative New York special election, and even Newt Gingrich's (quickly disavowed) labeling of the plan as "right-wing social engineering." As numerous commentators have pointed out, if anyone should have known better, it was the newly elected Republican legislators who lambasted cuts to Medicare in the Affordable Care Act on their way to victory in 2010. Medicare is the third rail in American politics. Touch it too carelessly and you will get electrocuted.

If we step back and consider how this whole drama played out it is tempting to wonder whether what we have just witnessed is simply an astounding example of Republican overreach -- an unforced error of catastrophic proportions -- or whether clever White House tactics actually shaped the outcome.

When the Obama administration released its 2012 budget, critics immediately pounded on the White House for failing to include a plan to deal with long-term entitlement costs. At the time, some of us thought this was unfair, since the Affordable Care Act incorporated concrete steps to rein in rising healthcare costs, which, practically speaking, is significantly more than any other recent administration has achieved in terms of grappling with long-term entitlement spending trends. But our voices were drowned out by the deficit hawks, and the clamor grew even louder when Paul Ryan seemed to steal a march on Democrats by releasing his own, much more far-reaching budget.

Only then did Obama release a plan of his own, in his April speech on the deficit, while simultaneously landing some lethal blows on Ryan's Medicare plan. Grumpy conservatives immediately labeled Obama's speech as "hyperpartisan" and the House GOP rallied en masse to vote for the Ryan budget, but the GOP has only itself to blame for inviting such a harsh reaction -- especially if the Politico reports on the negative internal polling numbers generated by the plan are true.

Did Obama sucker punch the GOP? By letting the Republicans go first, led recklessly into the breach by Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand fan who could be counted on to go much further in abandoning the social welfare safety net than most Americans are willing to contemplate, Obama made room for the Democrats to launch a vicious counter-attack: Republicans want to cut taxes for the wealthy while reducing healthcare coverage for seniors. It's nasty and partisan, sure, but it also happens to be true. The battle lines for the 2012 election instantly snapped into place, and Republicans are suddenly fighting from a surprisingly weak position. If that was the plan all along, then maybe this Obama "long game" talk has some meat to it.

It's also tempting to compare the Republican misadventures on Medicare with the Democratic healthcare saga, which also generated town hall anger and a huge electoral backlash. But there's one momentous difference. Obama got his healthcare bill passed into law. The Ryan budget is never even going to get a vote in the Senate. If you're going to place your entire party in political jeopardy, you might want to make sure you're getting something out of the bargain.
The Ryan/Republican plan to gut Medicare was said to be "courageous" by most of the media. How courageous is it to pass what would amount to a death sentence for millions of Americans. What was wrong with the Republican Medicare plan and will be wrong with the future plans they offer. The obvious. They could make rising revenue their focus - a slight increase in payroll taxes, or a larger contribution from the wealthy. They will not do that. Why? Because when it comes down to choices of protecting one group's interests over another Republicans have sworn to protect the decadent wealth of the upper 2% and America's richest corporations rather than protect average Americans. This is the philosophy of 16th century monarchs, the philosophy of the decadent, the elite. Republicans have made their loyalties known - they are the modern princes who steal from the working-class to give to the elite.

Glenn Beck Fails Bible Study

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Republican Crook of the Week Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) - The Culture of Corruption Continues

Republican Crook of the Week Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) - The Culture ofLinkCorruption Continues

Three weeks ago, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed into law a major tax break for Delta Airlines — the world’s largest commercial airline — that would enable it to purchase jet fuel at a lower rate. The tax break blew a $30 million hole in the state’s budget, and was given to the company at a time when its profits are topping $1 billion:

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a hefty tax break for Delta Air Lines Inc. The bill Deal signed into law on Wednesday will save the Georgia-based airline up to $30 million on jet fuel taxes over two years.

Supporters say the state must work to keep Delta in the state because it brings in millions of dollars in economic development. Opponents said when the tax break on jet fuel originated several years ago, the company was facing bankruptcy but it reported more than $1 billion in profits last year and doesn’t need the help now.

Many wondered why Deal and his GOP allies in the state legislature were so eager to reduce the flow of revenue to the state’s coffers at a time when budget cuts are forcing thousands of elderly Georgians to go without home-delivered meals and cutting deeply into the education system.

Now, a new investigation by Atlanta’s WSB-TV finds one possible answer why the state’s top GOP lawmakers gave Delta such a treasured tax break. The station found that Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (R) and five Republican leaders in the legislature were given free “upgrades to platinum or gold frequent flyer status,” which include access to special security lines, far more frequent flyer miles, and free upgrades to first class in some circumstances.

While the company did register the upgrades as campaign contributions, the station argues that the company undervalued them. Delta said the upgrades were worth $1,600-$2,400, but renowned consumer reporter Clark Howard said the actual value of the upgrades was closer to $10,000-$15,000 a year, and that they should be registered as gifts from lobbyists, not simple contributions. Watch WSB’s report about the upgrades: at link

Commenting on the case, Georgia Politico’s Dustin Baker writes, “There are much more cost-efficient ways to get bumped up to first class. Then again, since you’re paying for it with Georgia tax dollars, I guess it is pretty much free for you.”
Republicans are not and never have been against big government. Every time they have had the power, thus the opportunity, to enrich themselves on the pretense of representing regular Americans, they have. It was Republicans who invented the K-Street project in Washington - bascially a way to funnle special interets money into Republican politician bank accounts. While K-Street turned into a scandal that blew-up in their face, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and his handmaidens in the legislature did not learn their lesson. Or maybe the lesson they learned is that corruption isn't bad, it is getting caught that is bad. Yet another day that conservatives prove they are the rot eating away at good government and America's future.

Right-Wing Conservative Media Portray Partition Plan Supported By Israelis, American Jews As Simply The "Palestinian Plan"

Friday, May 20, 2011

Andrew Breitbart and Big Government Emulates Fascist Propaganda Techniques

Andrew Breitbart and Big Government Emulates Fascist Propaganda Techniques - The 'Electronic Brownshirts'

Judy Ancel, a Kansas City, Mo., professor, and her St. Louis colleague were teaching a labor history class together this spring semester. Little did they know, video recordings of the class were making their way into the thriving sub rosa world of right-wing attack video editing, twisting their words in a way that resulted in the loss of one of the professors’ jobs amidst a wave of intimidation and death threats. Fortunately, reason and solid facts prevailed, and the videos ultimately were exposed for what they were: fraudulent, deceptive, sloppily edited hit pieces.

Right-wing media personality Andrew Breitbart is the forceful advocate of the slew of deceptively edited videos that target and smear progressive individuals and institutions. He promoted the videos that purported to catch employees of the community organization ACORN assisting a couple in setting up a prostitution ring. He showcased the edited video of Shirley Sherrod, an African-American employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which completely convoluted her speech, making her appear to admit to discriminating against a white farmer. She was fired as a result of the cooked-up controversy. Similar video attacks have been waged against Planned Parenthood.

Ancel has been the director of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Institute for Labor Studies since 1988. Using a live video link, she co-teaches a course on the history of the labor movement with professor Don Giljum, who teaches at University of Missouri-St. Louis. The course comprises seven daylong, interactive sessions throughout the semester. They are video-recorded and made available through a password-protected system to students registered in the class. One of those students, Philip Christofanelli, copied the videos, and he admits on one of Breitbart’s sites that he did “give them out in their entirety to a number of my friends.” At some point, a series of highly and very deceptively edited renditions of the classes appeared on Breitbart’s website. It was then that Ancel’s and Giljum’s lives were disrupted, and the death threats started.

A post on Breitbart’s summarized the video: “The professors not only advocate the occasional need for violence and industrial sabotage, they outline specific tactics that can be used.” Ancel told me, “I was just appalled, because I knew it was me speaking, but it wasn’t saying what I had said in class.” She related the attack against her and Giljum to the broader attack on progressive institutions currently:

“These kinds of attacks are the equivalent of electronic brownshirts. They create so much fear, and they are so directed against anything that is progressive—the right to an education, the rights of unions, the rights of working people—I see, are all part of an overall attack to silence the majority of people and create the kind of climate of fear that allows for us to move very, very sharply to the right. And it’s very frightening."

Ancel’s contact information was included in the attack video, as was Giljum’s. She received a flurry of threatening emails. Giljum received at least two death threats over the phone. The University of Missouri conducted an investigation into the charges prompted by the videos, during which time they posted uniformed and plainclothes police in the classrooms. Giljum is an adjunct professor, with a full-time job working as the business manager for Operating Engineers Local 148, a union in St. Louis. Meanwhile, the union acceded to pressure from the Missouri AFL-CIO, and asked Giljum to resign, just days before his May 1 retirement after working there for 27 years.

Gail Hackett, provost of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, released a statement after the investigation, clearing the two professors of any wrongdoing:

“It is clear that edited videos posted on the Internet depict statements from the instructors in an inaccurate and distorted manner by taking their statements out of context and reordering the sequence in which those statements were actually made so as to change their meaning.”

The University of Missouri-St. Louis also weighed in with similar findings and stated that Giljum was still eligible to teach there.

On April 18, Andrew Breitbart appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, declaring, “We are going to take on education next, go after the teachers and the union organizers.” It looks as if Ancel and Giljum were the first targets of that attack.

In this case, the attack failed. While ACORN was ultimately vindicated by a congressional investigation, the attack took its toll, and the organization lost its funding and collapsed. President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized to Shirley Sherrod, and Vilsack begged her to return to work. Sherrod has a book coming out and a lawsuit pending against Breitbart.

Let’s hope this is a sign that deception, intimidation and the influence of the right-wing echo chamber are on the decline.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 900 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.
If far right Republican attack techniques by Breitbart and assorted far Right outlets sound familiar it is because they have been used before. They are actually tried and true propaganda techniques traditionally used by totalitarians throughout modern history: GOEBBELS' PRINCIPLES OF PROPAGANDA - Based upon Goebbels' Principles of Propaganda by Leonard W. Doob, published in Public Opinion and Propaganda; A Book of Readings edited for The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Brietbart floows these dictates almost to the letter,

Propaganda must be carefully timed.

a. The communication must reach the audience ahead of competing propaganda.

b. A propaganda campaign must begin at the optimum moment

c. A propaganda theme must be repeated, but not beyond some point of diminishing effectiveness

Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.

a. They must evoke desired responses which the audience previously possesses

b. They must be capable of being easily learned

c. They must be utilized again and again, but only in appropriate situations

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Republicans Refuse to End Corporate Welfare for Oil Companies

Republicans Refuse to End Corporate Welfare for Oil Companies

The Senate on Tuesday blocked a Democratic proposal to strip the five leading oil companies of tax breaks that backers of the measure said were unfairly padding industry profits while consumers were struggling with high gas prices.

Despite falling eight votes short of the 60 needed to move ahead with the bill, top Democrats said they would insist that eliminating the tax breaks to generate billions of dollars in revenue must be part of any future agreement to raise the federal debt limit.

“We have to stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” said Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota. “While oil prices are gouging the pocketbooks of American families, these companies are on a pace for a record profit this year.”

The defeat on Tuesday was expected since most Republicans were dug in against what they saw as a politically motivated plan in advance of the 2012 elections. Democrats had hoped that directing the savings toward the deficit would make it harder for Republicans to reject it.

In the 52-to-48 vote, 3 Democrats joined 45 Republicans in opposing the bill, which was supported by the Obama administration and fiscal watchdog groups that saw the tax help for the oil industry as wasteful. Forty-eight Democrats, two independents and two Republicans backed it.

Energy-state Democrats criticized the initiative, saying it was misdirected and would do nothing to ease gasoline prices and could cost American jobs.

“Why are we harming an industry — five large oil and gas companies that work internationally, that employ 9.2 million people in the United States directly?” asked Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana. “Why are we doing it?”

Republicans, who on Wednesday will push their own plan to open more areas to oil drilling and speed government permits, said the Democratic proposal would contribute to higher prices and increase dependence on foreign oil even though a recent Congressional Research Service report predicted any impact on prices would be negligible.

“Clearly, this is not a serious effort to address the price of gas at the pump,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

Under the proposal, Democrats would have eliminated five different tax breaks enjoyed by the multinational oil companies, producing an estimated $21 billion over 10 years.

More than $12 billion would have come from eliminating a domestic manufacturing tax deduction for the big oil companies, and $6 billion would have been generated by ending their deductions for taxes paid to foreign governments. Critics suggest that the companies have been able to disguise what should be foreign royalty payments as taxes to reduce their tax liability. The bill would also deny the companies the ability to deduct some intangible drilling and development costs.

The bill would have applied to BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

The White House lent strong support to the effort though the president in the past has recommended applying revenue generated by ending the tax breaks to the development of alternative energy sources.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana must be kidding. BP, ConocoPhillips and other oil companies are enjoying record breaking profits. So they need those profits plus welfare from tax payers? Landrieu is a well known bag woman for bog oil. Republicans, with the exception of two, all voted for corporate welfare. That is what conservatives mean when they say they are pro capitalism. It is the kind of capitalism that is carried on the backs of middle=class American workers.

Arnold's True Love Child: California's Deficit Problem

Monday, May 16, 2011

Modern Republicans Versus The Constitution and the Bible on Civil litigation

Modern Republicans Versus The Constitution and the Bible on Civil litigation

Does the U.S. Constitution guarantee a right to a civil jury trial?

It does. Very clearly – in the Seventh Amendment.

But Andy Cochran believes that most Americans don’t have a clue.

“I know the vast majority of Americans don’t know that the right to a jury trial for civil lawsuits is in the Constitution,” Cochran told Corporate Crime Reporter last week.

Is that from polling, or just a guess?

“No, that’s a guess,” Cochran says. “I should do polling. But I know from my mail, my e-mail, the blank stares I get. I’m very confidant that the majority of Americans don’t recognize that as a Constitutional right.”

Cochran is a rare bird in Washington, D.C.

He’s a lobbyist.

He’s a Republican.

He’s a conservative.

And he’s against tort reform.

His biggest client?

The trial lawyers.

The trial lawyers association – now called the American Association for Justice – is his biggest client.

They pay him $200,000 a year to persuade Republicans and conservatives to back off tort reform.

He’s set up a web site – it’s called

And he has convinced the trial lawyers to sponsor a Christian radio program.

It’s called The What’s Up Program with Terry Lowry.

If you go to the show’s web site, the first article that comes up is titled – “Tort Reform – Legitimate Crisis or Big Business Bullying?”

Cochran says the Bible makes the case for civil litigation.

He cites scripture on his web site.

“Moses, for example, specified punitive damages if you take your neighbor’s property,” Cochran said last week.

And then he fast forwards to 1215 to the Magna Carta.

“Article 39 of the Magna Carta protects the right to a jury trial for civil and criminal cases,” Cochran says.

Cochran admits that those Constitutionalists within the Republican Party have lost the 30 year battle to the Corporatists.

He says the Corporatists have hijacked the issue. But now he sees the possibility of a civil war within the Republican Party.

“That is very possible,” Cochran says when the question is raised during the interview. “Go back to a Tim Carney column in August 2010 from the Washington Examiner. It’s titled – ‘K Street vs. Main Street Republicans.?’”

“I am pro business. I love the business side. I want to see low taxes. I don’t want a big FDA. The whole bit.”

“The point of disagreement is when state courts are pre-empted on everything from financial services, to drug and device regulation – across the board.”

“Republicans have bought into pre-emption too much and too often. And by the way, they should realize that the final frontier of pre-emption is international pre-emption of all American law. They should fear that the Chinese or other economic powers will demand pre-emption of American law.”

“A civil war is possible over a number of issues, including this one.”

Ten years ago, Cochran worked for Congressman Michael Oxley on the House Financial Services Committee.

“I was there for three years,” Cochran said. “I was active in the Sarbanes/Oxley Act, terrorist financing, corporate accounting scandal, Patriot Act – and other
oversight issues under the committee’s jurisdiction.”

“When I was on the committee, I was very involved in terrorist financing investigations and reviews,” Cochran said. “When I left, I began a homeland security/counter-terrorism type practice. One of my clients was the law firm Motley Rice of Charleston, South Carolina.”

“Motley Rice, in addition to being involved with asbestos and tobacco class actions, is one of the firms that represented American terrorist victims in civil litigation against terrorist financiers. They represented 9/11 victims and still do. They represented victims of Libyan terrorism. They are part of the small terrorism victims bar.”

“Through them I was introduced to the ATLA – now the American Association for Justice.”

Cochran says that if Republicans study the history of the right to civil lawsuits, they will understand his point of view.

“I have posted on the web site an open invitation – I will buy anyone the best dinner in Washington – wine, dessert and cigars included – if you show me one pro-tort reform quote by a Founding Father.”

“There is a segment of the Tea Party that applies Tea Party Constitutional principles only to budget spending and not to other parts of the Bill of Rights. And they say – we are all for tort reform.”

“But this is why I’m here. I think the Seventh Amendment is the most unknown, ignored and endangered amendment of the Bill of Rights.”

“The Founding Fathers were trial lawyers. They were not for allowing federal bureaucrats to take over decisions that could be made by local juries.”

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. He is also founder of, and editor of the website Morgan County USA.

Why are most reasonable Americans not shocked that tea nut conservatives and most modern conservative Republicans are either utterly ignorant of civil remedies for damages or hate the idea of same. They do not read the Constitution as much as believe it says the stuff they believe in. This is yet another bizarre way that many modern conservatives look at freedom and justice - they beleive the less freedom and justice you have as an indiviual is he best kind of patriotism.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Run For Your Life America Supply-side Economics Are Here to Stay for a While

Supply-Side Economics in Fact and Fancy

Supply-side economics is a hearty perennial, one that closely follows the election cycle. Every four years ambitious Republican politicians (and not a few ‘centrist’ Democrats) rediscover that the wealthy would like to pay less in taxes. But the rhetoric of politics does inhibit the wealthy, their kept intellectuals, and paid spokesmen from arguing their case directly. In democracies, even those resembling plutocracies, the rich must present their own interests as coinciding with the general good.

With this in mind, and yet still aspiring to a tax cut, the wealthy have lavishly supported ‘astroturf’ political organizations and ‘think tanks’ which, in turn, hire photogenic and eloquent spokespersons to present their case to the public. In its best form, the argument is that tax cuts for the rich will: (1) increase the national savings rate because the wealthy save a larger percentage of their incomes than others. This increased quantity of savings will (2) provide the funds required to spur business investment in plant and equipment. From this it follows that (3) supply-side tax cuts will have the effect of providing strong economic growth, which will “trickle down” to the “regular guy.” We are assured that not only are these propositions true, but that they were proven decisively during the Reagan Administration.

Let’s look up the figures. The key to this theory is in steps 1 & 2, describing a causal relationship between lower tax rates and increased private investment. Our starting point, or baseline, will be the average of what is called "net private domestic investment" over President Jimmy Carter's four years (1977-1980), which we will compare to the average across the four years of President Ronald Reagan’s second term (1985-1988). The reason to select the former years is that they are widely recalled as having been dismal. Indeed, we have been repeatedly told that they were so bad that voters granted Reagan a mandate to pursue supply-side economic policies. Likewise, the latter years are selected as the effects of the enormous tax cuts enacted during Reagan’s first term should have had their strongest effect during his second term. Selecting data from Reagan’s second term allows us to set aside the economy’s abysmal performance during his first term with its devastating recession -- the worst that occurred between the Great Depression and the Crash of 2008. In addition, by Reagan’s second term the wealthy should have had ample opportunity to adjust to their lower tax rates.

When we look up the figures on the official National Income and Product Accounts, we find that “net private domestic investment” did not increase. On the contrary, it declined from an average of 7.0% of total Gross Domestic Product during Carter’s four years to an average of 5.7% during Reagan’s second term. More shockingly, if we factor out inflation, we find that the real dollar amount of investment fell slightly despite the fact that the American economy of the late 1980s was over 17% larger than the late 1970s. To put it mildly, this is a powerful refutation of the supply-side story.

But, proponents might respond, surely overall savings rose as a consequence of the lower tax rates? Let us check. Comparing the averages over these same two four-year periods, consumption as a share of total National Income increased from 64.8% to 67.2%. Because the median American income for a full time year-round employee declined between 1980 and 1988 (from $34,483 to $34,253 in constant 1994 dollars according to the Bureau of the Census), this increase in the nation’s consumption was most likely undertaken by persons in the upper echelons of the income distribution.

In light of facts presented in the previous two paragraphs, we are ready to sum up. President Ronald Reagan's supply-side economic policies left us with more consumption on the part of the wealthy, a lower savings rate, less net private sector investment, and a lower median income for a full-time year-round worker. These who lived through those years will not be surprised by these numbers, as conspicuous consumption on the part of the wealthy was a dominant and widely-noted theme of that era.

The ‘moral of the story’ is that proponents of more tax cuts for the rich will have to argue that its beneficial effects are very gradual, occurring only after an orgy of increased expenditure on the part of the policy’s immediate beneficiaries. Alternatively, they could argue that the National Income and Product Accounts put together by the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the Department of Commerce are profoundly flawed. Finally, they could drop the pretense that the Reagan years are an affirmation of their favored theory. The numbers presented above and the conclusions they point to simply cannot be sidestepped. If tax cuts for the wealthy are good for savings, investment, and the incomes of “regular guys” (that is to say the median earner), then some precedent other than the Reagan years will have to be invoked.
Robert E. Prasch

Robert E. Prasch is Professor of Economics at Middlebury College where he teaches courses on Monetary Theory and Policy, Macroeconomics, American Economic History, and the History of Economic Thought. His latest book is How Markets Work: Supply, Demand and the ‘Real World’ (Edward Elgar, 2008).
America has been waiting for supply-side economics to work since Reagan. The growth of the tech industry gave us a reprieve in the 1990s, but now we have the fruits of supply-sde economics fully realized - The Great Recession where corporate profits are soaring and unemployment struggles. Do not mistake cutting taxes at the expense of sluggish economic growth just to Bush. The Republican majority in the House are doubling down - they want more tax cuts and they plan to finance those cuts by gutting Medicare, Medicaid and cutting those will have the effect of stressing the finances of those on Social Security.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Economic Downturn and Republican Policies Continue to Drive Large Projected Deficits

Economic Downturn and Republican Policies Continue to Drive Large Projected Deficits

Some lawmakers, pundits, and others continue to say that President George W. Bush’s policies did not drive the projected federal deficits of the coming decade — that, instead, it was the policies of President Obama and Congress in 2009 and 2010. But, the fact remains: the economic downturn, President Bush’s tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years (see Figure 1).

The deficit for fiscal year 2009 — which began more than three months before President Obama’s inauguration — was $1.4 trillion and, at 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the largest deficit relative to the economy since the end of World War II. At $1.3 trillion and nearly 9 percent of GDP, the deficit in 2010 was only slightly lower. If current policies remain in place, deficits will likely resemble those figures in 2011 and hover near $1 trillion a year for the next decade.

The events and policies that pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term were, for the most part, not of President Obama’s making. If not for the Bush tax cuts, the deficit-financed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression (including the cost of policymakers’ actions to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term. By themselves, in fact, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for almost half of the $20 trillion in debt that, under current policies, the nation will owe by 2019. The stimulus law and financial rescues will account for less than 10 percent of the debt at that time.

President Obama, however, still has a responsibility to propose, and put the weight of his office behind, policies that will address our key long-term fiscal challenge — preventing the relentless rise of debt as a share of GDP that will occur under current policies. The President and Congress could make major progress toward stabilizing the debt for the coming decade by letting all of the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule at the end of 2012. That would just be a first (although a substantial) step. To keep the debt stable over the longer run, when the fiscal impacts of an aging population and rising health care costs will continue to mount, policymakers will need to take large additional steps on both the expenditure and revenue sides of the budget.

Having said that, policymakers should not mistake the causes of the swollen deficits that we face in the decade ahead — nor make policy based on mistaken impressions.
Recession Caused Sharp Deterioration in Budget Outlook

Whoever won the presidency in 2008 was going to face a grim fiscal situation, a fact already well known as the presidential campaign got underway. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) presented a sobering outlook in its 2008 summer update,[1] and during the autumn, the news got relentlessly worse. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that became embroiled in the housing meltdown, failed in early September; two big financial firms — AIG and Lehman Brothers — collapsed soon thereafter; and others teetered. In December 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research confirmed that the nation was in recession and pegged the starting date as December 2007. By the time CBO issued its new projections on January 7, 2009 — two weeks before Inauguration Day — it had already put the 2009 deficit at well over $1 trillion.[2]

The recession battered the budget, driving down tax revenues and swelling outlays for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other safety-net programs.[3] Using CBO’s August 2008 projections as a benchmark, we calculate that the changed economic outlook alone accounts for over $400 billion of the deficit each year in 2009 through 2011 and slightly smaller amounts in subsequent years. Those effects persist; even in 2018, the deterioration in the economy since the summer of 2008 will account for over $300 billion in added deficits, much of it in the form of additional debt-service costs.

Tax Cuts, War Costs Do Lasting Harm to Budget Outlook

Some commentators blame major legislation adopted in 2008-2010 — the stimulus bill and other recovery measures and the financial rescues — for today’s record deficits. Yet those costs pale next to other policies enacted since 2001 that have swollen the deficit. Those other policies may be less conspicuous now, because many were enacted some years ago and they have long since been absorbed into CBO’s and other organizations’ budget projections.

Just two policies dating from the Bush Administration — tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — accounted for over $500 billion of the deficit in 2009 and will account for $7 trillion in deficits in 2009 through 2019, including the associated debt-service costs. [7] By 2019, we estimate that these two policies will account for almost half — nearly $10 trillion — of the $20 trillion in debt that will be owed under current policies.[8] (The Medicare prescription drug benefit enacted in 2003 also will substantially increase deficits and debt, but we are unable to quantify these impacts due to data limitations.) These impacts easily dwarf the stimulus and financial rescues, which will account for less than $2 trillion (less than 10 percent) of the debt at that time. Furthermore, unlike those temporary costs, these inherited policies (especially the tax cuts and the drug benefit) do not fade away as the economy recovers.

Without the economic downturn and the fiscal policies of the previous Administration, the budget would be roughly in balance over the next decade. That would have put the nation on a much sounder footing to address the demographic challenges and the cost pressures in health care that darken the long-run fiscal outlook.[9]

A Simple Step to Stabilize the Fiscal Outlook

The key question is: where do we go from here? It’s too late to undo the damage caused by the tax cuts and wars over the last decade, which have left us with a large overhang of debt. (In fact, that debt legacy — and the resulting interest costs — are a key reason, along with an aging population and rising health-care costs, that it’s unrealistic and ill-advised to restrict total federal spending to the average outlay levels that prevailed over the 1970-2008 period, as some have proposed.[10]) But it’s feasible to enact measures now — to take effect once the economy has recovered more fully — that would put the budget on a sustainable path without jeopardizing the economic recovery.

The most pressing need is to arrest the relentless rise in the ratio of federal debt to GDP. One simple way to make significant progress toward that goal would be to let the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire after 2012.[11]

Congress should either let these tax cuts lapse when they are scheduled to expire — for everybody, not just for people with incomes over $200,000 for an individual or $250,000 for a couple — or pay for those portions it wishes to extend. (It would, in fact, be desirable to continue some elements of the tax cuts, while offsetting their cost.) The economy should have recovered sufficiently by the end of 2012 to absorb the reduction in purchasing power. By that one simple step, Congress would put deficits and debt on a sustainable path for the next decade, as Figure 2 shows.

Of course, much more would need to be done to keep us on a sustainable course for decades after that; letting the Bush tax cuts lapse wouldn’t by itself solve our longer-term fiscal challenges. Congress will need to use findings from demonstrations, pilots, and research on cost containment conducted under the health reform law to take very strong steps to slow the growth of costs throughout the U.S. health care system, in the public and private sectors alike; these rising costs are the greatest threat to the nation’s fiscal future. Congress also ought to tackle fundamental tax reform to make the tax code simpler, fairer, and more economically efficient, while also raising more revenue. And Congress needs to address the long-term imbalance in Social Security, which poses a smaller but still significant challenge.

Any changes in eligibility or benefits in Medicare and Social Security will need to be designed carefully and phased in gradually, with ample notice to workers and recipients. Letting the Bush tax cuts lapse would stabilize the debt quickly and give policymakers time to get the rest of the job done right.
The citations for the numbers in the article are at the link, along with another chart.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How or Why Does The Insanity of Conservative Republicans Like Mike Huckabee Pass for Patriotism

How or Why Does The Insanity of Conservative Republicans Like Mike Huckabee Pass for Patriotism

Mike Huckabee's close ties to far-right activists helped propel him to a second-place finish in the race for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. But as the former Arkansas governor mulls another White House run, the incendiary remarks and outright paranoia of one of his close advisers serve as a reminder that Huckabee's greatest asset—his relationship with the religious right—may also be one of his greatest vulnerabilities.

Huckabee has joked that he "answers" to "two Janets." One is his wife, Janet Huckabee. The other is Janet Porter, the onetime co-chair of Huckabee's Faith and Values Coalition. And Porter, the former governor has said, is his "prophetic voice." But that voice has said some weird things over the years: Porter has maintained that Obama represents an "inhumane, sick, and sinister evil [1]," and she has warned that Democrats want to throw Christians in jail [2] merely for practicing their faith. She's attributed Haiti's high poverty rate to the fact that the country is "dedicated to Satan [3]," and she suggested that gay marriage caused Noah's Flood [4]. And there's this: In a 2009 column [5] for conservative news site WorldNetDaily, Porter asserted that President Barack Obama is a Soviet secret agent, groomed since birth to destroy the United States from within.

Porter's long history in the Christian right made her a natural ally for Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, as he laid the foundations for his presidential run in 2007. An acolyte of the late televangelist D. James Kennedy, Porter rose quickly through the ranks of the Christian right, first as director of the Ohio Right to Life chapter in the 1990s. Later, she founded and served as president of Faith2Action, a right-wing group that promotes a theory known as Christian Dominionism—in which Christians are duty-bound to control the instruments of government in advance of the second coming of Christ.

Porter, in turn, seemed enamored with the candidate. In WorldNetDaily, she lavished praise on Huckabee. At one point, she composed a medieval ballad [6] in which Huckabee, referred to as "Sir Mike-A-Lot who we all Like a lot," slayed Hillary Clinton (represented by the "the evil queen and her dragon of slaughter"). Huckabee eventually signed Porter up as co-chair of his Faith and Family Values Coalition, a prestigious group of evangelical who's-who's tasked with reaching out to religious voters.

Porter had strong words for Huckabee's competition, as well. She publicly suggested that former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson might be the anti-Christ [7]. In the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses, she cut an ad attacking Huckabee's two most serious rivals, Mitt Romney and John McCain. The ad was paid for by RoeGone [8], a short-lived 527 formed by a Porter deputy with the stated ambition of becoming the conservative (it fizzled).

Porter's most dramatic arguments for Huckabee centered on what she believed was the impending prohibition on Christianity—the subject of her 2004 book [9], The Criminalization of Christianity: Read This Book Before it Becomes Illegal! In her view, the 2008 election represented a make-or-break moment for people of faith. "I'm writing this letter from prison, where I've been since the beginning of 2010," she began [10] one column. "Since Hillary was elected in '08, Christian persecution in America has gotten even worse than we predicted."

Her efforts for Huckabee did not go overlooked by the candidate. In his campaign memoir, Do the Right Thing, he calls her a "prophetic voice [11]," and includes Porter on a short list [12] of evangelicals—including Left Behind creator Tim LaHaye—who made his rise possible. He singles her out for praise for helping to organize the Values Voters Debate and credits her prayers and fasting with his strong performance at a "turning point [13]" in the campaign.

"We met and prayed together and there was a special defining moment for me if not for the others," he writes. "Bondage to my fears about whether I was to continue was broken, and bonds of friendship were formed that night with people like Janet Folger [Porter's maiden name] and other who came to play a major role in what was later to be labeled by the press and known as a 'Huckaboom.'"

Since the 2008 election, the two have largely gone their separate ways. For Huckabee, that meant a well-paid gig on Fox News as the host of his eponymous television show. Porter, meanwhile, found a new target in the current president—a topic she explored in the detail in the pages of WorldNetDaily.

"Brace yourself for what I am about to say next," Porter began one column, published shortly after the inauguration. She then detailed an email that had been forwarded to her raising questions about the president's status as an American citizen. But that was the least of it: If the email were correct, the president was a Soviet agent—and so were his parents. He had been conceived, in other words, with the sole purpose of destroying the nation from within.

As Porter explained, the letter had originally been composed by a software developer named Tom Fife. "All I know is that Tom Fife is a real guy—not some e-mail scam," she wrote. "I've talked to him." In the email, Fife recounted a dinner-party conversation he'd had with a Soviet scientist in Moscow in the early 1990s.

"Since I had dabbled in languages," Fife wrote, "I knew a smattering of Arabic. I made a comment: 'If I remember correctly, 'Barack' comes from the Arabic word for 'Blessing.' That seems to be an odd name for an American.' [The Soviet scientist] replied quickly, 'Yes. It is 'African,' she insisted, 'and he will be a blessing for world Communism. We will regain our strength and become the number one power in the world.'"

From there, Porter's rhetoric only escalated. Last summer, she lost her syndicated radio show after organizing a rally at the Lincoln Memorial to urge Christians to take over the United States government. And this spring, she made headlines by summoning a fetus to testify on behalf of an Ohio measure banning abortions after a heartbeat has become detectable [14]. (Huckabee has endorsed the bill).

Porter did not respond to a request for comment from Mother Jones.

Huckabee's greatest asset has always been his ability to speak two languages—one to his base, and one to everyone else. But that may not last if he decides to run again. His most recent appearance on the normally friendly confines of The Daily Show was dominated by a discussion of his admiration for discredited amateur historian David Barton [15], whom Huckabee says Americans should be "forced at gunpoint [16]" to listen to.

The former Arkansas governor has thus far stayed mum on whether he will leave his cushy Fox News show to run for president. But like Porter, Huckabee himself has drawn criticism for his embrace of conspiracy theories surrounding Obama's upbringing. In March, he told the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer [17] that the President's worldview was shaped by Kenyan upbringing (he later back-tracked).

Huckabee, contacted through his political action committee, did not respond to a request for a comment. The Soviet Union, which dissolved in 1991, also could not be reached.
There are people confined to mental wards across America that have a more rational world view than Huckabee and his end of the world nihilistic followers. How does Huckabee and friends get away with talking and believing like some North American version of Afghanistan's Taliban. They wrap up their bizarre and radical world views in the flag and the Bible. So anyone who questions Huckabee, like anyone who questions the imams of the Taliban, is actually questioning God. Besides the sheer lunacy of Huckabee and his followers is the audacious amount of arrogance.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Torture Did Not Lead To Bin Laden In Any Way

Torture Did Not Lead To Bin Laden In Any Way

More and more evidence suggests a key piece of intelligence -- the first link in the chain of information that led U.S. intelligence officials to Osama bin Laden -- wasn't tortured out of its source. And, indeed, that torture actually failed to produce it.

"To the best of our knowledge, based on a look, none of it came as a result of harsh interrogation practices," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a wide-ranging press conference.

Moreover, Feinstein added, nothing about the sequence of events that culminated in Sunday's raid vindicates the Bush-era techniques, nor their use of black sites -- secret prisons, operated by the CIA.

"Absolutely not, I do not," Feinstein said. "I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and in my view nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used."

This is a mix of fresh, on-the-record information and push back against Republicans -- many of them former Bush administration officials -- who are tying themselves in knots to claim that Bush's interrogation policies got the ball rolling on the bin Laden killing.

"I would assume that the enhanced interrogation program that we put in place produced some of the results that led to bin Laden's ultimate capture," said former Vice President Dick Cheney on Fox News.

Here's Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, also on Fox: "We obtained that information through waterboarding. So for those who say that waterboarding doesn't work, who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information which directly led us to bin Laden."

However, multiple reports preceding Feinstein's remarks suggest that waterboarding failed to produce the key piece of information -- bin Laden's courier's nom de guerre.

Feinstein went even further, claiming that change to U.S. intelligence processes ushered in by the Obama administration were seminal in capturing bin Laden.

"I think the red-teaming of the intelligence was significant, and they red-teamed and red-teamed and red-teamed. And of course what that means is they looked for reasons why what they had as a piece of intelligence might not be accurate, or might indicate something else," Feinstein said. "And that's a very good process -- it's a solid process -- because it exposes weaknesses in the intelligence.... It didn't happen over the Iraq National Intelligence Estimate."

Feinstein further claimed that the Obama administration's decision to reconstitute the CIA's bin Laden unit -- which the Bush administration shuttered in 2005 -- was a key factor in the mission's ultimate success. "I think it was very crucial," she said. "I mean this has been there for a substantial period of time. People become experienced with the intelligence."

Not all Republicans are claiming that bin Laden's killing vindicates torture. At a Capitol press conference Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stood apart from his colleagues in the GOP. "This idea we caught bin Laden because of waterboarding I think is a misstatement," he said. "This whole concept of how we caught bin Laden is a lot of work over time by different people and putting the puzzle together. I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work."
if the mindless puppets known as Bush supporters want to spend their time trying to resuscitate one of, if not the worse president in US history's reputation let them at it. They have their work cut out for them.

Brent Bozell: Bush Gets All The Credit, None Of The Blame. Bush shifted resources from finding Bin laden and fighting al-Qaeda to lying us into a war in Iraq. Is that the credit the Right thinks Bush should get.

U.S. Taxes At Lowest Level Since 1958 .
The USA has a revenue problem, not an out of control spending problem. Discretionary spending has gone down under President Obama, not up. We do not need to gut education spending or Medicare, we need to rise taxes on those who are enjoying life in their McMansions with wealth made possible by working class Americans.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Why Do Republicans Love Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Divorces and Want More Abortions?

Why Do Republicans Love Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Divorces and Want More Abortions?

Republicans lost the first battle in their newly invigorated war on contraception and other health services for sexually active people, such as STD testing and treatment, when the Democrats called their bluff in the federal budget standoff. Planned Parenthood avoided the ax, but that doesn’t mean that Republicans are prepared to give up on doing everything in their power to separate women, especially low-income women, from access to contraception services. In lieu of cutting family planning subsidies on the federal level, Republicans have devised a plan to cut them on the state level, where they face fewer meddling pro-choice Democrats.

The strategy remains the same: Say the word “abortion” a lot, and use it to cut funding for contraception and other reproductive health services that aren’t abortion. Indiana kicked off the state-by-state strategy by banning Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding, using the usual abortion excuse, though none of the funding goes to abortion. Despite knowing that anti-discrimination laws would mean that this bill would end all family planning subsidies to the state, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed it anyway. Even though Republicans pretend to be cutting family planning spending more in sorrow than in joy, they still produce results for a right wing fringe that opposes not just abortion, but contraception, STD treatment, and preventing cervical cancer, all in the service of a religious belief that these are holy punishments for fornication.

Republicans in other red states see the benefit to the strategy, which allows them to cater to the far right while pretending to be more moderate. Invoking the demonized Planned Parenthood gives cover for an endless array of punishments for women who have sex and don't have much money. Texas is using Indiana's strategy to cut off all forms of reproductive health care, as are Kansas and a growing list of other red states. An enterprising Oklahoma legislator realized the strategy could be used to shut down WIC distribution in his state, adding “watching your babies starve” to the list of punishments Republicans view as appropriate for women who have sex without having the foresight to be financially comfortable first.

If Republicans in red states succeed in using the abortion bait-and-switch to cut off all reproductive health care, expect dramatic growth in the already-alarming divide between red states and blue states in measures such as health outcomes, family stability, and education. Red states top blue states consistently in divorce rates, STD transmission rates, and teen birth rates. Red states are overrepresented in high school drop out rates. A sudden disappearance of affordable reproductive health care will dramatically worsen this situation.

Why? In some areas, the reasons are obvious. STD transmission rates depend highly both on the availability of condoms, and cutting off the supply of affordable condoms will affect that availability rate. But it’s more than just latex that prevents STD transmission. STD transmission rates also fall when people discover their STDs and receive treatment before they have sex with a new partner, and cutting off affordable testing and treatment will mean far more people will put off testing and pass infections unawares.

Subsidized family planning has an outsized impact on teenage pregnancy rates, as well. Teenagers don’t tend to have access to much money, and they often can’t -- or won’t -- go through their parents to get contraception. Planned Parenthood is a cheap and parent-proof route to safer sex for sexually active teens. The GOP's dreams that teenagers en masse will stop screwing and start teaching Sunday school are unlikely to pan out, so expect states that cut off family planning funds to see a surge in teen births.

Lack of contraception access produces far-reaching negative results as well. As Naomi Cahn and June Carbone have demonstrated, one reason red states have higher divorce rates is that they have more people marrying without foresight because of unplanned pregnancy. Fewer condoms means more unplanned pregnancies, more shotgun weddings, and eventually more divorces.

States that adopt this plan to cut off family planning may as well kiss away hopes of improvements in their educational outcomes, as well. Cuts in family planning hit educational outcomes now and in the future. Girls who give birth in high school graduate at little over half the rate of girls who don’t, so an increase in the teenage pregnancy rate means an increase in the drop-out rate. But this is about more than the mothers; more unplanned pregnancies means more strain on overcrowded schools and more kids entering the system with unstable family lives, which increase the odds of dropping out. Obama wants schools to be racing to the top, but many red states are opting to race to the bottom.

In the greatest irony of all, the higher your unplanned pregnancy rate, the higher your abortion rate. Despite all the wailing about the evils of abortion, Republicans are doing more to increase the abortion rate than you could do by putting an abortion provider charging $5 a pop on every street corner.

If that doesn’t fill your daily irony quotient, consider that Republicans deem themselves fiscal conservatives, but this war on women will end up costing their states way more than they’re currently spending on social programs. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that the government saves $4 for every dollar spent on family planning in the first year alone, because of the costs of child-bearing and infant care for low-income women. For states facing budget crises, this dramatic explosion in costs will make it that much harder to stay out of the red.

Republicans probably haven’t thought about this plan much beyond patting themselves on the back for being clever enough to give something to the anti-contraception fringe without unduly alarming moderates. Still, they should consider the effects of amplifying the differences in red and blue states. Red states already have a reputation for high poverty, teenage pregnancy, STD, and divorce rates. If they continue down this path, the contrast between red and blue states will start to resemble that of undeveloped and industrial nations.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.
Just the current generation of radical right-wing conservatives by their actions and the consequences of those actions, not the same old tired BS about caring about life - born or unborn. They are enacting laws that have proven to condemn people to death, to lives of poverty and misery - all because of the weird voices they hear in their head, not because of something Jefferson or Madison had in mind for the country. Republicans have morphed into an American version of the Taliban. Its time to stand up to these radicals masquerading as patriots. Modern conservatives are not pro American values , they are pro contempt for real Americans leading real lives.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Republican Unhinged Hatred for America and Its Senior Citizens Comes Out of the Closet

The Republican Unhinged Hatred for America and Its Senior Citizens Comes Out of the Closet

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Republican presidential aspirant Rick Santorum endorsed Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to end Medicare and extend tax breaks for the wealthy. The former Pennsylvania senator praised “what he wants to do with Medicare [and] Medicaid,” but also called for Ryan’s budget to be implemented “sooner than what he’s suggesting”:

KEYES: The Ryan budget plan. If you were president, would you sign that?

SANTORUM: Yeah, I support the Ryan budget plan. I think it’s the right direction on the major points. I can’t say I’ve read all of it, but on the major thrust of what he’s doing, I support what he wants to do with Medicare, Medicaid. The only thing I would do, frankly, as I’ve said publicly many times, I think we should implement a lot of these things sooner than what he’s suggesting.

Last month, House Republicans voted in near-lockstep for the Ryan budget. When Congress went on recess soon thereafter, the constituent backlash was immediate. Many Republican congressmen from across the country encountered constituents who were infuriated that their congressman voted to end Medicare, preserve tax breaks for the wealthy, and protect subsidies for oil companies.

As a result, some of the Republican presidential candidates have been hesitant to endorse Ryan’s unpopular budget plan, though a few tend to hedge their bets by calling the plan “courageous” and praising Ryan’s “leadership.”

Still, some candidates like Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain have embraced the Republican plan to end Medicare. It remains to be seen whether this appeal to the fringe right will pay dividends; right now, polling shows 73 percent of Republicans oppose cuts to Medicare.
Thank goodness for one of those very rare occasion where some Republicans clearly revealed their contempt for America, the middle-class, seniors, the disabled and many children who directly or indirectly depend on Medicare to survive. The media is not giving it much attention, but progressive and truly patriotic Progressive Democrats have a budget called The People Budget that will create jobs, protect Medicare and Social Security. They have a pdf voters can print out and take to the next town hall meeting with their Congressional representative.

The Birth Of The Deathers

If you thought the wingnut right despised Barack Obama before Sunday night, the last 60 hours or so have given rise to the next iteration of Obama Derangement Syndrome: The Deathers. Nearly the entire right-wing blogosphere is involved in various bits of tinfoil lunacy that proclaims something is amiss with Sunday's mission to kill bin Laden.

It ranges from "The military took over when Obama wouldn't authorize the mission" to "Leon Panetta killed OBL behind the President's back" to "Obama took 16 hours to make up his mind" to of course the far more blatantly evil stuff about the entire mission being faked and the government having Osama's body on ice for years.

But all of these idiotic rumors have one thing in common: they attempt to justify and explain Obama Derangement Syndrome. Just like the Birther foolishness, the transformation to Deathers is nothing more than a different hand of cards dealt from the same deck of lies. It centers on the country succeeding despite the involvement of the man they are obsessed with hating.
It must be truly humiliating for the Right when a Democrat succeeds, where trillions of dollars and thousands of lives wasted by Republicans failed.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Republican and Paul Ryan Tax Priorities Would Cost Nearly $3 Trillion Over Next Decade

Republican and Paul Ryan Tax Priorities Would Cost Nearly $3 Trillion Over Next Decade

The tax proposals in the budget that the House approved on April 15 place a top priority on cutting taxes for high-income people, while doing nothing to reduce budget deficits, themselves. [1] In addition to making the Bush tax cuts permanent and continuing to provide relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) at a cost of nearly $4 trillion over ten years, the House budget advances a series of additional tax cuts that would primarily benefit high-income households at a cost of nearly $3 trillion over that period, most of which is assumed to be offset by reductions in tax expenditures that are left unspecified. [2]

The House budget would permanently lock in all of the Bush tax cuts, which flow disproportionately to high-income people. It also would make permanent the relief from the AMT that now is regularly extended every year or two. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that extending these tax cuts would cost $3.8 trillion over the coming decade, the vast majority of which would be attributable to the Bush tax cuts. [3] The House budget essentially would finance these tax cuts with extremely large budget cuts, including cuts in a number of key programs for people with low or moderate incomes. [4]

The House budget also calls for tax reform. But its few specific proposals in this area — reducing the top individual and corporate rates to 25 percent and eliminating the AMT altogether [5] — along with its proposal to rescind the health reform law’s Medicare payroll tax increase on high-income people — follow a familiar pattern and have two common characteristics: they are very costly and would disproportionately or exclusively benefit people with high incomes.

The Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center (TPC) estimates that the Ryan budget’s specific tax proposals (other than the proposal to make the Bush-era tax cuts and AMT relief permanent) would cost $2.9 trillion over the next ten years (see Table 1). This cost would be on top of the $3.8 trillion cost of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Roberton Williams of TPC has noted that, “[v]irtually all of the tax savings from [these additional proposals] would go to households making upwards of $200,000 — the 5 percent of tax units who currently face marginal rates over 25 percent.”[6]

The House budget plan assumes that $2.5 trillion of this $2.9 trillion in additional tax cuts (presumably the tax cuts other than the measure to repeal the increases in the Medicare payroll tax for high-income households) would be paid for by broadening the tax base through changes in tax expenditures. But the base-broadening measures are left entirely unspecified.

In addition, as TPC’s Williams has explained, even if the House were to follow through on the commitment to offset $2.5 trillion of these costs, the net result would be “very likely to make the tax code much more regressive than it is today.” [7] Measures to lower the top rates to 25 percent, abolish the AMT, and repeal the health reform law’s payroll tax increase on people with incomes over $250,000 are tilted heavily toward the most affluent households. It is difficult to imagine a politically plausible series of tax expenditure reforms that would not only raise enough money to offset most of these new costs but also would raise so much of that money from high-income households that the overall result wouldn’t be regressive.[8] For example, eliminating one of the largest tax expenditures, the exclusion of employer-provided health care from taxable income, would reduce after-tax incomes by about 2 percent, on average, for households in the middle fifth of the income distribution but by one-quarter of 1 percent for households in the top 1 percent of the income distribution. The combination of reducing the top rate to 25 percent and shrinking tax expenditures would likely benefit people at the top of the income scale at other Americans’ expense.
We had the Reagan Recession and America learned nothing from those disastrous economic policies. Then we had the mini-recession of Bush first term - where he squandered a budget surplus and than we had the Great Recession and Republicans have been using that one to pull another con job on the American people. They claim - the same people who have lied us into three recessions - that we have a spending problem. Will Americans be naive enough to believe the latest big lie. Or will it dawn on the public that Republicans cannot be trusted with America's economy. They seem to think its toy they can crash and burn over and over. Until America wakes up and says enough is enough they will keep doing it. CBO report traces deficit back to 2001